My friends, I bring good news today!
For months now, you've been feeling out of sorts and ill at ease. The state of our nation has you and your loved ones deeply concerned -- and why not? Every time you turn around, there seems to be another battle breaking out among our elected officials, another broadside launched against those whose job it is to lead us through these troubled times.
And just when you think the battles couldn't be any more strident, the criticism any more pervasive, we reach another new low:
The president wants to speak to our school children, and we find ourselves arguing about whether 15 minutes of presidential inspiration will somehow jeopardize their tender psyches.
"Indoctrination!" cry some of our leaders.
"Forced exposure to a socialist agenda!" shout some of our media titans.
And all because the President of the United States, here at the start of a new school year, wants to encourage kids to work hard? Go to class? Do their homework? Listen to their parents? Respect their teachers? Push through the tough parts? Take personal responsibility for living up to their potential?
And, of course: Socialist!!!
Why, if just a handful of students in each and every state were somehow lured into listening to this president and following his advice -- let alone his example -- you might suddenly have that many more students working hard, going to class, doing their homework, listening to their parents, respecting their teachers, pushing through the tough parts -- and taking personal responsibility! Horrors! We can't have that!
But I promised you good news.
Here's the good news: They don't mean a word of it.
Not even a little.
You know, if I thought for even a moment that the folks claiming to be so upset about the prospect of presidential confidence-building actually believed what they were saying, I'd be worried, too. I'd be really worried for them. And I'd be really worried for the rest of us, being stuck with national leaders and media titans who are so easily frightened, so prone to go off the deep end at the slightest provocation, so totally ignorant of history and political theory and all the rest.
Do I look worried? Of course not.
Because I know it's just a show.
They're not saying these things because they believe them. They're saying these things because they think they'll work. They're desperate to slow this president down, to bring this president down. If they can keep him back on his heels, constantly on the defensive -- no matter how trivial the issue -- that's one for their side.
And if it takes fanning the fears of the gullible, or providing shouting points to the angry and the unreconciled -- well, it's all part of the job when you're trying to turn Barack Obama into Barack Pinata.
So take heart, my friends. Our national leaders and media titans aren't nearly as spineless, as clueless, as paranoid as they appear to be. It's all an act.
Cynical? Manipulative? Intellectually dishonest? That's something else again.
See? Don't you feel better?
Rick Horowitz is a syndicated columnist. You can write to him at email@example.com.